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I Think Toilet Training a Cat Is a Bad Idea -- Who's With Me?

I’m just not okay with a cat using the toilet, and here are eight reasons why. What do you think?

 |  Jul 24th 2013  |   33 Contributions


Say goodbye to scoops and litter! Save thousands of dollars over time! Eliminate the odor and mess of a litter box! Impress your friends! You can do all these things and more by simply toilet training your cat.

Panther, a cat using the toilet, photographed in San Francisco on 13 August 2005. Photo by Wikipedia user Reward

It sounds like a fantastic idea, especially if you live in a small apartment and floor space is at a premium. But I’m not convinced. Actually, I think toilet training can cause enough problems to negate the convenience, and here are eight reasons why.

1. Your cat’s output is a vital measure of his health

If you can’t see whether your cat is urinating excessively, for example, you may miss early warning signs of diabetes, kidney disease, or hyperthyroidism. The color, quality and quantity of your cat’s feces can reveal health issues you might not have noticed otherwise.

2. It doesn’t do anything to control the odor

If your cat’s poop sits in the toilet, it’s still going to stink up your house -- probably more so than if you’d allowed him to go in the litter box and cover it up.

3. It’s bound to be a problem if you have more than one cat

There’s a reason cat behaviorists recommend that you have one litter box per cat plus one extra. By having all those boxes, you eliminate the stress that can arise from a dominant cat guarding the litter box and keeping less outgoing cats from using it. Unless you have one toilet per cat plus one extra, you should probably reconsider.

Unless you have one toilet per cat plus one extra, you may want to reconsider toilet training. Public restroom by Shutterstock

4. Litter boxes can be placed in convenient locations for special-needs cats; toilets, not so much

If you have an elderkitty who likes to sleep on your bed but maybe doesn’t realize they have to go until the need is urgent, a box in your bedroom can keep it from becoming a kitty toilet.

5. Using the toilet can be hard on arthritic cats

If my Siouxsie is any example, a cat with moderate to severe arthritis usually has trouble holding the appropriate position to urinate and defecate. Perching on a tiny surface like a toilet seat can be especially difficult.

6. What happens if somebody puts the lid down?

When the toilet’s not available, where do you think Kitty is going to do his business? Hint: Probably not where you want him to.

Cat standing on toilet by Shutterstock

7. Toilet training can backfire

If you’re using a training kit, what happens if one of the plastic rings collapses while Kitty is doing his business and he falls into the toilet? And there’s really no such thing as flushable litter, no matter what anyone says. There’s nothing quite like watching raw sewage spill all over the floor as a result of “flushable” litter that expanded and clogged the toilet drain.

8. Leaving the toilet open is gross

Every time you flush with the lid up, aerosolized fecal bacteria spray six feet in every direction. Some sources say leaving the toilet lid up is bad feng shui, but the poop germs everywhere worry me a lot more than the flow of chi in the bathroom.

Cats have an instinct to bury their waste, and the only reason I can see for toilet training a cat is because it might make life easier for us. Why should we force cats to do this “clever” trick just to suit our own convenience?

What do you think? Have you toilet trained your cat? Has it been a success or … well, not such a success? Would you toilet train your cat if you could? Can you convince me that toilet training is a good idea? Sound off in the comments, and let’s talk!

Japanese cat using litter box, (CC-BY-SA) by Wikipedia user Ocdp

About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer, and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their cat advice column, Paws and Effect, since 2003. JaneA dreams of making a great living out of her love for cats.

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